Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Rahul was more real than rhetorical

If you yourself haven’t watched the full interview of Rahul Gandhi on Times Now with dispassionate outlook you would be misled into thinking he came out as “dumb”, “dull” and proved himself “unworthy”.

Because this is how most of the journalists – seasoned, senior and respected – have portrayed him after his first formal interview with Arnab Goswami.

But such lowly portrayal of Rahul Gandhi is misplaced, prejudiced and false. It appears to me the commentators have relied more on what is trending on Twitter and Facebook rather than on their own ability to decode and decipher the interview. Such application of journalistic prowess is appalling.

In most of the answers in the interview Rahul Gandhi sounded real rather than rhetorical. The fact about Rahul’s interview is that he said what was true and factual. He said what he and his party have done.

Since he and his party have not done much- and he must be criticised for that- he had not much to say. He had to repeat few things like RTI, women empowerment, pushing the democracy deeper into India.

He could have chosen to talk non-sense, and will-do-this and will-do-that. He didn’t.   

And I believe, repeating the reality, howsoever discomforting, is far better than iterating and reiterating fiction. But stating reality in political debates is not "fashionable", is it?

What is “fashionable” is when you watch Modi challenge “Shahjada” by thumping his 56 inch chest which is hollow and pointing his index figure which is red. What is fashionable is when Modi twists history to fit his agenda.

What is fashionable is when Modi says, “Dalits were like mentally retarded children”—while releasing the book Samajik Samrasta”, when he says, “he had information that Sir Creek was being handed over to Pakistan on Dec 15, 2012. He claimed India had referred Sir Creek to India-Pakistan Western Border Tribunal”.

The fact is the two countries never referred the matter to the IPWBT. : Outlook

Coming back to Rahul, he must also be criticised when he said, “I am not responsible for anti-sikh riots in 1984 because I was not personally involved in that.” And later on he said, “We will have alliance with RJD. Because political alliances are made Based on Ideas.”

But Rahul must be hailed for being real and not faking. He must be hailed for not leaving the interview mid-way because some of questions perturbed him. And on the media’s coverage of the interview I find it apt to quote BBC Hindi journalist Dilnawaz Pasha.

Pasha says in his Facebook update, “Dear journalists! If twitter trolls are driving your 'news agenda' and 'news peg' then you need to go back to college and learn basics.”

Monday, 27 January 2014

What if Taliban were here?

She asks herself “out of guilt” after skipping 26th January flag hoisting  

Flying high at IIMC Dhenkanal campus Photo: Ankit Gautam  
What if we were to be ruled by the Taliban? No music, no classes, no modern dresses, no studies, no birthday party. Nothing,” she was whispering to me in classroom.

“It is because of 26th January that we have this liberty of living our lives our way. I am so ashamed of skipping the 26th January celebration. And I am sorry not because director sir is scolding us like never before but I am sorry to myself. The sense of guilt is enormous. And the feeling of guilt is the worst feeling to live with.”

“After all RD celebrations are not just about sentiments. It is about feeling and showing the gratitude, for we have the freedom to live, for assurances that we would never be stopped from enjoying, reading, partying and, above all, from hoisting Tiranga,” she was scolding herself though she was talking to me.

She had to confess all this because she was among around 40 students who skipped the RD flag hoisting. We have a total of strength of around 65 students at Indian Institute of Mass Communications, IIMC.

Perhaps it was for the first time she had made a choice to skip the RD celebrations in her life. This is the impression I got while she whispered, I listened when our director was admonishing the entire class.

“There were no reasons for celebrating my birthday in the grandiose manner we did just last week. During Diwali, Lohari celebration all of us were together. Dancing, enjoying. I don't know why I could not attend this.”

“Majority of the students skipped the flag hoisting programme. It was not any sort boycott. It was just yun hi type wala thing. I was in two minds - whether to attend the programme next morning at 07:30am.”

Everybody must have reasons for skipping. But the validity of reasons in this case is relative. What may be a genuine and perfectly okay a reason for you may be just a lame excuse seen from a different reference.

Many of students remained asleep, as they told in the classroom. Loads of assignments and therefore the habit of remaining awake late night would have lingered.

Obviously our director was “really, really upset, anguished, pained”. “Where do you belong to? Half of you had told me, you “will do this, do that” for your country and society, during the interviews. Is this the way you would do all that?” our director’s questions were legitimate.

You ask “why journalism” to anybody who is in the first stages of opting for the course in journalism, most of the times, the laziest line, “I want to change the society” would be the answer.

I don’t know what she had said in the interviews.  But this evening, the guilt of not attending flag hoisting was abundantly clear on her face, in her words.  

“There comes a decisive moment when you have to choose either to be on the right or wrong side of the line. And I had chosen to be on the wrong side.”

“Surely this was the mistake which was grave. Surely it was a sorry thing. But this realisation is coming now. I have the benefit of hindsight and liberty of reflection, now. I will never skip the celebration in future,” were her words.

“But you won’t be able to attend the RD celebration at IIMC. We are living the last installment of our stint here,” I said.

“That is sad. But wherever I go and get myself associated with, I will surely participate.”

Friday, 17 January 2014

RIP Sunanda an understatement. I heard Sunanda Pushkar is dead and it was such a strange feeling....I had never had such feeling in my life. I don't know what to call this! Only this afternoon I wrote an article on the Twitter 'fight' between Shashi Tharoor, Sunanda Pushkar and Pak Journalist Mehr Tarar for our college newspaper. And now I heard she is dead. This is the article. I am sorry to put it on my blog......but I can't help it.....RIP Sunanda........

The victors of Cross-border twitterism (headline in the original article)

He had to resign from the post of Minister of State in ministry of External Affairs in 2010. He is again in the headlines for his ‘External Affairs’. The 57-year-young (Yes, he is young and dashing at 57.) politician and Minister of State in HRD Shashi Tharoor become a ‘twitter’ of discord between two beautiful ladies – his three-and-a-half-years wife Sunanda Pushkar and Pakistan-based columnist Mehr Tarar.

The ‘external affairs’ first surfaced on Twitter this Wednesday when private messages were tweeted from official twitter account of Tharoor proclaiming he “loved” the Pakistan journalist Mehr Tarar. Shashi has always been a lover. One Tweet led to the other. Cross-border Twitterism unfolded.

“You don’t RT me and you don’t answer me on Twitter. I can live with your favourites. I have your personal validation” was one of the tweets from his account. Tharoor clarified his account has been hacked. Everybody has known Tharoor’s ability to win hearts.

Tharoor's won the heart of his first wife Tilottama Mukherji, an academic from Kolkata. Later Tilottama divorced Tharoor when he got close to a Canadian lady Christa Christa Giles working at the United Nations. While in the second marriage reports of his intimacy with Sunanda Pushkar led to his divorce with Christa. Shashi-Sunanda are married since August 22, 2010.

Following the tweets, outraged Sunanda branded Mehr as an “ISI agent”. She told newspapers "this completely stupid Pakistani journalist woman has been stalking Shashi since April.”

Mehr chipped in. “Okay. What is going on? Who is tweeting to me? I’ve an ‘affair’ with Shashi Tharoor and he is tweeting to me. How does that work?”

The war of tweets escalated between the two ladies. Alok Nath and #Yoyo Kejriwal jokes gave way to the Tharoors' tweets and Mehr's counter tweets. Suddenly on Thursday evening Tharoor and his wife issued a joint statement.

"We wish to stress that we are happily married and intend to remain that way. Sunanda has been ill and hospitalised this week and is seeking rest. We would be grateful if the media respects our privacy.” 

With this Sunanda also accepted that her husband’s account was not “hacked” and she herself had tweeted those messages from his account. This war of Twitterism started out of her insecurity. 

Mehr aptly answered in her tweet, “The wife trashed the husband and now doing WTH damage control. Ise hi kahte hain apne hi geerate hain nashemann pe bijliyaan…”
With this the cross-border Twitterism might have been contained. But who emerged the victor out of the episode? Tharoor and her wife or Alok nath and Arvind Kejriwal as this episode diverted twitter’s attention from them.

Adding after Sunanda is dead: With death of Sunanda it’s clear nobody is the victor here. Humanity, love and faith are the losers. RIP Sunanda.